My name is Angelique de Montbrun and I have been with Arrive for two years leading the team’s Marketing function. I’m first-generation Canadian, my parents are from Grenada and Trinidad & Tobago in the Caribbean. They, my mum and dad, immigrated to Canada to raise my siblings and myself but moved back home to Grenada over 10 years ago.

The holidays are a time for family, fun, food, and traditional music!

With over 35 first cousins and dozens of relatives, I have a huge family, both in Canada and back home in the Carribean. This often means plenty of family gatherings during the holiday season. In Canada, when I was younger, we attended midnight mass to hear my grandmother sing in the choir and then on the drive home we listened to the Santa tracker on the radio. The local radio station announcer would give ‘live’ updates as to Santa’s progress, which would delight the kids

On Christmas morning, we wake up early to open stockings and presents and head to a family lunch in the afternoon. In Canada, as well as back home, we have a lot of food and drink! Some of my family’s favourites are pastelles (Trinidadian pastelles are small meat-filled cornmeal pies stuffed with meat, fish or vegetables seasoned with fresh herbs and flavoured with raisins, olives and capers wrapped and steamed in a banana leaf, traditionally prepared and eaten during the Christmas season), garlic pork, macaroni pie, sorrel, and punch au creme. Growing up, I spent a lot of time squished in a car with my family as we travelled from one place to another during the holidays. These are some of my favourite childhood memories. I would say the two big differences between Canada and the Caribbean are that in the Caribbean there are fewer presents because there are fewer malls and there is no snow, just white sandy beaches.

During the holidays, for the most part, we listen to a type of music called ‘Parang.’ Parang was brought to Trinidad from Venezuela and is influenced by a number of cultures coming together, much like the Caribbean itself. From what I understand, in Trinidad parang serenaders would visit the homes of friends and family at night waking them up with the music. The thought of that story, that unbridled joy of family, makes it feel like Christmas, makes me feel like being home.

Over the years, for me, I don’t think the meaning of the holiday season has necessarily changed, other than my parents are farther away now. Like all holidays, family has become an even more important part of the season for me, especially with my kids. I want to instill in them the values of being together, sharing food and drink, and spending time as a family.

For the upcoming holidays, we are headed home to Grenada! It will be the first time in a very long time that my brother, sister and I will be at home with all of our children – under one roof! Christmas is a really special time to be home and I am excited to share the experience and pass on our traditions to our kids!

Newcomers, embrace the holiday season and make it your own!

Embrace the season; there are so many ways to celebrate and experience the holiday season in Canada: ice skating, hot chocolate, holiday markets, taking a snowy walk in the woods. Also, think about the traditions you want to bring from home. Keeping those customs alive will help to stay connected to your roots and your home country in a foreign land that will soon turn into your ‘new home.’

If you’re new in Canada and celebrating your first holiday season here, check out some of our blogs by Arrive team members for advice on things to do: 

 

 

Disclaimer:
This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.